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Badgers Knock the Boilers Down a Peg or Two, 73-66

Jordan Taylor against Duke. (Wisconsin State Journal)

It’s a cold, cold day in northern Indiana. The temperature hasn’t been above freezing since well before Christmas, and the #4 Purdue Boilermakers lost to #17 Wisconsin this afternoon in Madison, breaking their record-tying win streak at 14.

No Big Ten fans can be terribly surprised by this; Bo Ryan’s a great coach, Wisconsin’s a tough team and it’s very hard to win on the road in the power conferences. The Badgers outplayed Purdue today, led by Jordan Taylor, who had a career day with 23 points. The bench play from Wisconsin (33 points) was outstanding, and the Cheesehead guards shot the lights out.

Still, it’s a very disappointing loss for Purdue fans; the Boilermakers beat themselves in the most fundamental aspect of the game, free throw shooting. Every one of them native-born Hoosiers deserves a whuppin’.

JaJuan Johnson (7 miserable points, 1 of 7 free throws), I don’t even want to see your face for a week. Robbie Hummel (3 of 13 field goals), your little white ass is gonna turn red.

Free throws win ballgames! Wisconsin made them and Purdue did not.

Even Chris Kramer ought to be tossed in the dungeon with the Ledermeister. What a sorry spectacle to start off 2010.

In a free throw, here’s what happens. You have been fouled; an opposing player made an illegal move against you, so the clock stops. You get the ball; you walk to the free throw line, which is 19 feet from the baseline, 15 feet from the basket. You get to shoot the ball with no one opposing you. Your shot is free! There is no one opposing you whatsoever. Your opponents are required to stay away from the basket while you shoot. They can’t even move until your ball touches the rim.

Because of these rules, players who decide to become good free throw shooters (that decision is the essential ingredient) can practice the same motion over and over and over until they get it right. There isn’t a damn thing your opponent can do to stop you; you get to shoot for free.

Hoosier schoolboys excel at free throws, because in basketball, every last point you score matters. Many games are decided by one point. Championships rise or fall on free throw shooting.

It’s both the least glamorous and the most important aspect of the game; you get a throw that’s free. Judas Priest, get it through your thick head!

However, many modern players don’t like practicing free throws, because they never get on SportsCenter by successfully converting a static play. TV demands action, motion, bodies moving, a picture that mesmerizes the couch potatoes. Casual fans don’t like free throws, because they stop the action; and casual fans are where the money gets made by TV networks, teams and stars. Hardcore fans will watch every aspect of a game, but casual fans doze off. Nothing is happening, so they grab another beer and a bag of pretzels, even though the game itself hangs in the balance.

Wisconsin was superb at the charity stripe today. Purdue sucked. JuJuan, get the fuck out. You’re not even allowed to get your ass beat by the Ledermeister.

Here’s why free throws should matter to Indiana schoolboys; for reasons historical, ethnic, cultural, biological and demographic, we tend not to be very tall, when basketball is a game that rewards height. The closer you can get to the basket the more likely you are to score.

Like all Americans, Indiana kids are slowly getting taller as evolution and better nutrition make that possible. Any given kid might be tall (Hummel’s 6’8″), but as a group we tend to lag behind a bit, especially in rural areas, where shorter moms and dads hook up and produce shorter babies. I’m 5’5″—and taller than both my parents. It’s still rare in my hometown to come across a 6-footer, even though kids are taller these days.

Thus it’s in the interest of Hoosier schoolboys who want to get good at basketball to become very, very skilled at sinking foul shots. It’s a way to overcome our natural disadvantage; no defense allowed!

So today Johnson missed and missed and missed; Hummel hit his freebies but missed everything else, Kramer missed, none of them were any good. Wisconsin won by 7 points; Purdue missed 11 free throws, for no good reason. I’m disgusted. I’d whup ’em all if I could.

Though I admit I’d start with Kramer, easily the hottest stud of the bunch. 🙂

I mean, it’s not like they grow ’em any taller in Wisconsin!

Maybe the colder it is, the more isolated the bleak and lonely landscape, the more inclined schoolboys are to practice free throws and perfect their move. The Badgers missed 5 (22 of 27) today, the Boilers missed 11 (13 of 24).

I swear, I’d take a belt to every one of these Purdue kids. Our freshmen played like freshmen; Wisconsin’s played like men. Purdue will drop in the rankings, even though it isn’t a bad loss. Now we will see whether Hummel, Johnson, E’Twaun Moore (24 points, Purdue’s only real offense), Kramer and the abysmal Keaton Grant (4 lousy points in 18 minutes) have learned they are not invincible. I bet coach Matt Painter chews ’em a new one and makes it personalized.

Myself, I’d just throw ’em all in a cage with the Ledermeister. It’s time somebody made a man out of ’em.++

Oldie but goodie.

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